Bush signs massive energy bill into law

· ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - President Bush on Monday signed a sweeping energy bill that will send billions of dollars in tax subsidies to energy companies, yet do little immediately to ease gas prices or lower reliance on foreign oil.

''This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight,'' Bush said just before signing the bill into law. ''It's going to take years of focused efforts to alleviate those problems.''

Bush traveled here from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to sign the 1,724-page bill, which was passed, with bipartisan support, to end a yearlong standoff in Congress over national energy policy.

Wildfire burns at least 35 cabins, forces evacuations

· POMEROY, Wash. - Cooler, damper weather gave an assist Monday to crews battling a wildfire that had exploded in size and destroyed at least 35 cabins.

The blaze in forests and wheat fields in the fertile Palouse region of southeastern Washington had grown to 32,000 acres from only 150 acres on Saturday. An additional 120 homes could be at risk and had been evacuated as crews concentrated on protecting them Monday, officials said.

Evacuations also were ordered for homes near a small town threatened by a fire in northwestern Montana.

Nearly 600 firefighters near Pomeroy were aided by lower temperatures and rising humidity Monday but the wind was expected to kick up, said Don Ferguson, a spokesman for the Northwest Fire Coordination Center.

Admitted Ohio highway shooter drops insanity plea

· COLUMBUS, Ohio - The mentally ill man who admitted committing a series of highway shootings that terrorized central Ohio has agreed to drop his insanity defense and plead guilty, a judge said Monday.

Charles McCoy Jr.'s plea would avoid a second trial. Jurors could not decide earlier this year whether McCoy was legally insane during the shootings, which happened over five months in 2003 and 2004. One woman was killed.

Barring a last-minute change of heart by McCoy or prosecutors, McCoy will enter the plea Tuesday afternoon, Judge Charles Schneider said after meeting with McCoy's attorney Monday.

Adviser: Pirro will challenge Clinton's Senate re-election

· ALBANY, N.Y. - Jeanine Pirro, a high-profile prosecutor from the New York City area, said Monday she will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in her bid for re-election next year.

''I am running against Hillary Clinton because New York state deserves a senator who will give her all to the people of New York for a full term, who will not miss votes to campaign in (presidential) primaries,'' Pirro said in a statement.

Feds OK $2.8B for Appalachian highways

· ELKHORN CITY, Ky. - Traveling salesmen are scarce in this out-of-the-way Appalachian town accessible only by curvy mountain roads that can make driving not only slow but also dangerous.

''I literally have zero representatives coming into my store and laying stuff down on the counter and saying, 'Let me show you this,''' said Bobby Slone, a retailer of sports supplies. ''They're on a time schedule, and it takes up too much time for them to drive to Elkhorn City.''

That could be changing.

Congress has approved a massive transportation bill that will pump $2.8 billion into new Appalachian highways over the next six years, including $480 million for two eastern Kentucky roads, one of which will be built to within a mile of Elkhorn City.

Daniel Boone to get back on the road

· FRANKFORT, Ky. - The uproar that accompanied the decision two years ago to replace the Daniel Boone Parkway name with that of a sitting Kentucky congressman will be put to rest today.

In a private ceremony in his office, Gov. Ernie Fletcher plans to sign documents that designate U.S. 25 East in southeastern Kentucky the Daniel Boone-Cumberland Gap Wilderness Trail.

Investigators: Chief of oil-for-food deal took kickbacks

· NEW YORK - Investigators probing claims of wrongdoing in the Iraq oil-for-food program on Monday accused its former chief, Benon Sevan, of corruption for taking illegal kickbacks and recommended his immunity be lifted for prosecution. Later Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan waived the diplomatic immunity of Alexander Yakovlev, a former procurement official accused by the investigators of taking nearly $1 million in bribes outside the program.

- From wire reports